Beer books we want to drink to
We will be picking up Eoghan Walsh’s Brussels Beer City: Stories from Brussels’ Brewing Past. Walsh is a great writer and storyteller as he wanders from a glimpse of the Senne to peer into the vat of Brussels’ brewing past.
“To understand how Brussels got here, you need to understand the rich history of 150 years of brewing history, through the breweries that made it,” says Walsh. “And that is what this book sets out to do, telling the stories of the breweries that have defined Brussels – from the family businesses to the industrial giants, the local craftsmen and the foreign interlopers, the characters, the beers, and everything in between.”
Walsh runs the Brussels Beer City site and won the 2019 British Guild of Beer Writers’ Young Beer Writer award.
We will also be waiting for the third edition of the World Atlas of Beer in October, written by our favourite beer commentator Tim Webb, and Stephen Beaumont. They describe book as the “busy professional’s guide to what was really happening in the brewing industry across the whole world pre-COVID, in one easy-to-read volume”.
They note that by January of 2020, over 25,000 breweries existed across the world, with rapid growth in Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and Eastern Europe.
The book has expanded to cover progress in over 125 countries.
They say: “Then, along came COVID-19, reintroducing uncertainty to the beer business. With the situation changing daily, will governments look to global corporations to help them tackle financial mayhem in exchange for turning a blind eye to an increase in constrained trading? Or will the triumph of the human spirit, exemplified for half a century by the revival of small independent breweries, once more push back corporate mundanity?”
Bar uprising: give us beer and freedom
Libertap, whose motto is “Never waste a good crisis”, is calling on Belgian bars and cafés to take up pens and sign a charter or petition to be able to offer a more varied beer range.
They want to end the practice of Those Who Cannot Be Named Cause They Are So Big (this is a Beer Idiots’ opinionated comment) from imposing conditions on them on what they can offer and for what price.
In the age of Covid they want to be able to offer beers that give them more of a cut of the revenue rather than becoming “café colonies” of the big boys.
Calling for an end to “economic exploitation and dependence”, the group mentions commercial lease conditions that allow for practices such as forced exclusivity, price fixing, monopolies, brewery contracts by multinationals and large café owners that narrow profit margins and “companies that can potentially enrich themselves through bankruptcies in the café landscape”.
They list these principles: allow every brewery or beverage or liquor producer or seller to have the same rights to sell to any café operator; allow café owners to “freely determine his/her range of drinks and to purchase them at rates that apply on the free market”.
Cantillon’s Zwanze 2020 is on 26 September with beer drinkers having to sign up for staggered tastes of a beetroot flavoured concoction. It seems at least two people have already tried the Brettrave lambic being released to select bars and restos around the world.
The 2020 World Beer Awards were announced this weekend, featuring less craft and more Belgians in the top tier than last year.
The Beer Idiots congratulate Belgian winners Het Anker for winning the World’s Best Flavoured Spirit award for Gouden Carolus whisky infused; Affligem for World’s Best Pale Belgian Style Blonde; Duvel Moortgat for World’s Best Pale Belgian Style Strong; Queue de Charrue for World’s Best Oud Bruin (Vieille Brune); Lindemans for World’s Best Gueuze (Oude Kriek Cuvée René).
We also congratulate Stijn Panis of Force Majeure for winning bronze for the World’s Best Pale Low Alcohol. Brasserie Houppe also won bronze in the World’s Best Pale Golden Ales category. Scheldebrouwerij
The Flying Dutchman Nomad Brewing Company seems to list himself as a Belgian brewer and this year picked up 8 awards.
The other Belgian winners in the Country category are listed here by Vlaamse Brouwers.
In the charts
This is quite a good chart by Vinepair for seeing which beer you are drinking is in which universe. It is nice to see the Belgian styles laid out for analysis. In fact we challenge someone to come up with a more detailed map of the Belgian beer scene!
What’s in a name?
And to round out our list of roundups we turn to horrible things that can happen to a brewery when they don’t figure out what they are calling their beers or themselves.
Recently Hell’s Basement Brewery in Alberta, Canada, got caught out for accidentally naming its new beer ‘pubic hair’ in Maori language. They thought from a dictionary that ‘Huruhuru’ meant “feather” instead of “pubes”. Of course, there’s the other possibility that they meant it. But I guess they were watching too much MacLean and MacLean.
How about the case of Huge Ass Beer v. Giant Ass Beer? Choosing a name to piss your customers off is never a good idea, but some brewers want to take it a step too far into dumb ass stuff. Two brewers are battling it out in New Orleans, US to see who has the biggest one. The court case, which some hope will reach the US Supreme Court (imagine the smirks), is between Huge Ass Beer and Giant Ass Beer.
The trademark for Huge Ass Beers apparently belongs to Nicholas S. Karno #1 Inc., a bar operator on Bourbon Street, which serves the beer in branded mugs in the shape of a female torso. Karnois suing bars operated by Pamela Olano and Guy Olano Jr., who serve to go beers in cups labelled ‘Giant Ass Beer’. I don’t know what the talk is about ass and beers, but I thought New Orleans and the Bourbon Street was all about baring breasts for beads, not your butt. There goes tradition.
Wishbone Brewery in Keighley, West Yorkshire, fell afoul of Hindus when it named a beer after the elephant-headed god Ganesh. No insult was meant to the religion Wishbone said and the deity was chosen “in all innocence”, as quoted in the Independent after complaints by religious leaders.